The Tension of Art and Words

This past year in isolation, art became a daily rhythm of soul care for me. Little watercolor vignettes poured from paint and brush. This was something I didn’t know I could do; but there they were, teacups bursting with blossoms, flowers and leaves spilling from water pots, tea cups and mugs.

Yet in the act of art, my words became pushed aside; revealing a season for new things where words were not present.

The joy of creating art made my heart swell, while the lack of words was something new to me. I have always had words. This art journey was a surprise I was not expecting.

This became troubling to me as my social media platforms became a mash of art, photographs, and very little words. I missed the streamlined classic look of photography, and meaningful words of authenticity, or sharing a scripture that had spoken deeply to my heart that day.

I found myself repeatedly saying;

Where are my words? Isn’t it words that God has given to me to offer up to the world? Yet, instead I am offering art.

Art frightened and astounded me. It gave me great pleasure and filled me with joy, but at the same time I felt like my words were on hiatus. A slight betrayal rose in me. Did I need to choose between words and brush and paint, or was God offering me a means to pick up a new palette which included both words and art?

For weeks this angst swelled within my soul as I saw both art and words as gifts from the Lord. Gifts that are held in tension, yet gifts that need to be given as an offering to those around me.

A plethora of questions jabbed at my soul.

Could I use both gifts with honor and purpose? Could I use the one without neglecting the other? Could both be held in balance to bring glory to God? Could I be fortunate to have been given two gifts? Is it possible that in this season I need to allow my words to rest, ruminate, and be restored to something greater? While in this season of word-rest is God watering my garden with water colored blossoms and blooms?

At the beginning of the year, Isaiah 43:19 was the verse I sensed God was prompting on my heart for 2021. “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

I sensed that God was calling me to stop, and to behold, to look intently at what he was about to do in my life. Behold! I am doing a new thing.

With this reflection I begin to pray; “God, open my eyes to behold you. To behold your beauty. To behold your work in my life. To behold the direction, you desire for me to walk. Lead and guide me in the best pathways for my life. Help me to entrust my words and my art into your care, for they are both gifts from you. May I use all that I put my hand to for God’s glory and grace. An offering to the world around me.” AMEN

As I paint, I pray; asking God to lead and guide me along the best pathways for my life, asking God to advise and watch over me. (Psalm 32:8 NLT) For my greatest desire is that whatever I put my hand to, I will do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus.

So, for now I sketch and paint. Continuously asking God to give me wisdom in this inner tension of art and words.

“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:16-17 NLT

After twenty-five years as a missionary, Linda Jane is now entering a new ministry role as pastor’s wife; where she will serve alongside of her husband Joel, in Warren, Pennsylvania. The calling to serve Christ remains the same, as does her endeavor to reach women with the gospel message, and to teach them to live authentically out of who God created them to be. Linda's passion is communication through the spoken and written word, photography and illustration. She loves all things cultural, creative and colorful.